Making It Harder to “See” Meaning: The More You See Something, the More Its Conceptual Representation Is Susceptible to Visual Interference
Davis, Charles P.
Joergensen, Gitte H.
MetadataShow full item record
Davis, C. P., Joergensen, G. H., Boddy, P., Dowling, C., & Yee, E. (2020). Making It Harder to “See” Meaning: The More You See Something, the More Its Conceptual Representation Is Susceptible to Visual Interference. Psychological Science, 31(5), 505–517. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620910748
Does the perceptual system for looking at the world overlap with the conceptual system for thinking about it? We conducted two experiments (N = 403) to investigate this question. Experiment 1 showed that when people make simple semantic judgments on words, interference from a concurrent visual task scales in proportion to how much visual experience they have with the things the words refer to. Experiment 2 showed that when people make the same judgments on the very same words, interference from a concurrent manual task scales in proportion to how much manual (but critically, not visual) experience people have with those same things. These results suggest that the meanings of frequently visually experienced things are represented (in part) in the visual system used for actually seeing them, that this visually represented information is a functional part of conceptual knowledge, and that the extent of these visual representations is influenced by visual experience.